Usually I keep a pencil nearby to mark down on my bookmark passages and pages that I want to return to while reading a book. By the time I reached p. 20 of My Antonia, the classic work of fiction depicting farm life in Nebraska, I had written down really every page number. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of writing of this work. The description of the landscape and characters were very vivid. Cather used very simple language in a poetic manner. Jim Burden grows up as the neighbor of Antonia Shimerda, a girl with eyes brimming with life and an indomitable spirit. The novel follows the lives of Jim, Antonia, and their families and friends through their years of childhood into adulthood. Here are a few of my favorite lines:
"He looked lively and ferocious, I thought, and as if he had a history."
"My grandfather said little. When he first came in he kissed me and spoke kindly to me, but he was not demonstrative. I felt at once his deliberateness and personal dignity , and was a little in awe of him."
"I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great."
I feel that My Antonia surpassed Cather's The Song of the Lark in overall greatness, and I definitely now want to read all of Cather's books. An absolute pleasure, and it amazes me that a book written nearly 100 years ago can still feel like it comes right to life. Perhaps an early contender for one of the best books read in 2013!